Noah review

What's your favourite part in the story of Noah's Ark? Perhaps it's the bit where the animals go in two-by-two or when the dove returns to the Ark with an olive branch. But what about the part when Noah kills three starving men in retribution for them hunting an armadillo-dog? And how can you forget the battle with the rock giants?

Indebted as much to Peter Jackson's Tolkien movies as to the Biblical epics of yore, Darren Aronofsky's Noah is a very different take on the material to that which most of us will remember from our childhood. Mixing together elements from the Book of Genesis and the Book of Enoch (an ancient Jewish religious work ascribed to Noah's great-grandfather), the film offers a mix of post-apocalyptic visuals and epic battle scenes before the flood even hits. To top it all, the story is wrapped up in the most heavy-handed eco-parable imaginable.

Unsurprisingly, the result is a sodden mess; a high-budget misfire full of noise and thunder that centres entirely on Russell Crowe's permanently scowling, unsympathetic Noah to the exclusion of his thinly-drawn family. But for all of the weird animals, silly rock monsters and implied inbreeding the film packs in to its running time, the one thing that's been left out is God. Completely absent from Aronofsky's film is the divine being who communicates directly with Noah. Instead we have a more abstract 'Creator' who remains an off-screen presence, leaving Noah to be his grumpy representative.

Picture: This Biblical blockbuster floats onto Blu-ray with a very agreeable AVC 1.85:1 Full HD encode.

As we've come to expect from Aronofsky, Noah is a dark and grimy film, painted almost entirely in shades of grey, brown and ochre. Thankfully, the clarity and sharpness of the digital presentation is such that it constantly reveals a wealth of fine detail in even the darkest sequences. The sudden emergence of a forest in Chapter 7 adds a splash of vibrancy to the palette with its greenery, but even this is washed away when the rain starts to fall.
Picture rating: 4.5/5

Audio: Noah's DTS-HD MA 7.1 mix delivers a truly divine audio experience. From thousands of birds circling overhead in Chapter 7 to the sound of war in the battle for the Ark in Chapter 13, the track regularly employs the entire soundfield, giving it an expansive and immersive feeling. Bass response is just as ferocious, with every move the rock giants make in helping to build and defend the Ark accompanied by deep, rumbling scrapings of stone on stone. Dialogue is also perfectly balanced and never drowned out by the onslaught of effects. You might want to buy the disc for the soundtrack alone...
Audio rating: 5/5

Extras: This Blu-ray includes a trio of behind-the-scenes documentaries, with a combined running time of just over an hour. Iceland: Extreme Beauty focuses on the benefits of shooting on location in such difficult terrain. The Ark Exterior: A Battle for 300 Cubits addresses the design of the Ark and the amount of water used in recreating the downpour. Finally, The Ark Interior: Animals Two by Two looks at the interior set and the film's themes.
Extras rating: 2/5

We say: A spectacular-sounding Blu-ray outing for Darren Aronofsky's very, very silly Biblical blockbuster

Noah, Paramount, All-region BD, £25 Approx